6 Careers That Pay More Than $40 An Hour

June 3, 2014


$40-an-Hour Careers

Are you in search of a career with big-pay potential? Here are some to consider.

By Tony Moton

Are you wondering what it might take to land a career that pays a higher-than-average salary – say, $40 an hour or more?

According to Laurence Shatkin, a career expert and author of the book “250 Best Paying Jobs,” “a number of vital characteristics seem to be shared by jobs in the high salary range.”

“Many high-paying jobs require a college degree in demanding fields,” Shatkin says. “A frequent requirement of the degree is the ability to apply math and technology to solve problems.”

Additionally, “managerial responsibility is also a common thread among high-paying occupations, and this requires not only a broad array of skills, but the ability to work under stress,” says Shatkin.

Interestingly, careers that could pay $40 an hour – for those counting, that’s about $83,000 annually – represent a diverse range of professional fields, so your choices aren’t limited to just one kind of job.

Here’s a closer look at six such high-paying careers and what you might need to qualify for positions that eclipse the big “four-oh” salary threshold.

Career #1: Software Developer

Find Degree Programs If you’re a technology enthusiast who loves to keep up with the latest apps and computer programs, a job as a software developer might be a right fit.

In this high-pay job, not only are you likely to serve as the creative force behind the development of computer programs, applications, and systems, but you may also test them to ensure that they’re functioning normally, explains the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career Mean Hourly Wage* Mean Annual Salary*
Applications $46.28 $96,260
Systems $50.23 $104,48

Why it pays well: “Software developers are well-compensated because software is used in so many devices, including automobiles and household appliances,” Shatkin says.

Additionally, Shatkin says that computer technology is big business, and the people in charge of masterminding the development of software programs tend to be paid handsomely for their skill set and knowledge.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

How to prepare: If this job – and its high pay potential – sounds appealing to you, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. According to the Department of Labor, software developers usually have one of these degrees. A degree in mathematics is considered acceptable as well.

Career #2: Management Analyst

Find Degree Programs Are you a problem solver who would like to put your skills to use in a career that could pay an average of $40 an hour or more? Perhaps you might want to consider work as a management analyst.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, management analysts are basically consultants hired to make sure that companies run more efficiently and potentially turn a profit.

Career Mean Hourly Wage* Mean Annual Salary*
Management Analyst $43.26 $89,990

Why it pays well: Management analysts – also referred to as consultants, according to the Department of Labor – are rewarded with a high hourly wage because they come to the rescue when businesses find themselves in tough situations.

“People in managerial positions are often stressed and unable to keep up with changes in the business environment,” Shatkin says. “Therefore, many companies find it useful to bring in management analysts with the latest skills to solve managerial problems.”

Of course, you’ll need to keep in mind that with this type of role, the paycheck might not come in consistently. In plenty of instances, says Shatkin, these analysts work as consultants, meaning they are hired by companies and organizations on a case-by-case or contractual basis, so their high pay partly reflects the temporary nature of their assignments.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Management Program.

How to prepare: Think this high-pay job would be a great fit? Then consider earning a bachelor’s degree. According to the Department, possessing a bachelor’s degree is the typical requirement for entry-level management analyst positions.

Common fields of study in this profession are business, management, economics, accounting, finance, marketing, psychology, English, computer and information science, and political science and government. The Department adds that some employers might prefer candidates who have a master’s in business administration.

Career #3: General and Operations Manager

Find Degree Programs Do you have something of a take-charge personality? A career as a top executive, specifically as a general and operations manager might enable you to plan, direct, or coordinate the operations of different types of organizations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career Mean Hourly Wage* Mean Annual Salary*
General and Operations Manager $55.22 $114,850

Why it pays well: Because people working as general and operations managers often make pressurized decisions affecting the financial well-being of companies, they tend to be compensated well for their duties, Shatkin points out.

“These workers have responsibility over many different departments, such as shipping, human resources, production, physical plant, and finance,” Shatkin says. “This means they need a very diverse skill set.”

But keep in mind that in management positions, the pressure to perform under duress usually comes with the high-paying territory. “They work under a large burden of stress,” warns Shatkin.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

How to prepare: If you can picture yourself in this high-paying role, you may want to consider enrolling in a business administration program. According to the Department of Labor, many top executives have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration.

Another thing to keep in mind is that education requirements may vary by position and industry, and that many of these professionals also have “a considerable amount of work experience.”

Career #4: Art Director

Find Degree Programs Looking for a professional outlet that will take advantage of your artistic talents and present an opportunity for you to earn an attractive salary? You might need to look no further than a career as an art director.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these style masters are responsible for creating the visual concepts in newspapers, magazines, ad campaigns, and television productions, as well as supervising the design team.

Career Mean Hourly Wage* Mean Annual Salary*
Art Director $46.46 $96,650

Why it pays well: “These workers typically oversee the work of several artists and designers,” Shatkin says. “This means that they need managerial skills as well as artistic vision for the results that they expect. They need to be able to collaborate with the workers who deal with the technical aspects of media, such as videogames, advertising, or magazines.”

In other words, having strong management skills is crucial to the success – and paycheck size – of art directors, according to Shatkin.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Art or Design Program.

How to prepare: Want to know what it takes to pursue this high-paying art career? The Department of Labor reports that you might need at least a bachelor’s degree in an art or design subject and previous work experience to pursue a position as an art director.

However, you’ll want to keep in mind that these professionals usually start out in other art-related occupations, such as graphic designer, fine artist, editor, and photographer, the Department says.

Career #5: Medical and Health Services Manager

Find Degree Programs If you have leadership capabilities and desire a health care career with high-pay potential, you might want to turn your attention toward a career as a medical and health services manager.

The U.S. Department of Labor says executives and managers in the industry are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating services in clinical departments, medical practices, and various types of medical and health service facilities.

Career Mean Hourly Wage* Mean Annual Salary*
Medical and Health Services Manager $48.72 $101,340

Why it pays well: Shatkin says medical and health services managers tend to earn their big paychecks by virtue of their considerable skill set, which includes being able to handle both business management and health care-related issues in a changing industry landscape.

And because solo medical practices are now merging with each other to form group practices, Shatkin points out that qualified managers are more in-demand than ever.

It is difficult for solo medical practices to survive when they need a large staff of clerical workers to deal with insurance paperwork, as well as many paraprofessionals and aides to handle routine tasks, says Shatkin. “As practitioners form group practices, they need managers to run these complex businesses efficiently.”

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

How to prepare: If you believe this is the right job for you, you might want to earn your bachelor’s degree in health administration, since the Department of Labor reports that prospective medical and health services managers should have this degree.

Of course, requirements vary by facility. In fact, master’s degrees in health services, long-term care administration, public health, public administration, and business administration are also common.

Career #6: Financial Analyst

Find Degree Programs Are sharp budgeting skills a part of your DNA? If so, you could put them to good use and potentially make a wage that exceeds $40 an hour if you pursue a career as a financial analyst.

In this profession, analysts help clients – both individuals and businesses – make sound investment decisions and assess how well stocks and other financial holdings are performing, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Career Mean Hourly Wage* Mean Annual Salary*
Financial Analyst $44.05 $91,620

Why it pays well: Financial analysts’ lofty salary, according to Shatkin, is predicated by how much value people place on their money matters, which is considerable in most cases. In fact, money matters are so important that the number of people involved in finance today is increasing.

“The fraction of the U.S. economy involved in finance keeps growing, and with it the variety of financial products and the complexity of financial portfolios keeps growing, too,” Shatkin says. “Therefore, the work of financial analysts requires an uncommon level of skill, and some positions require licensing or certification that reflects the mastery of these skills.” And with a higher level of skill, often comes higher pay.

On top of that, Shatkin says financial analysts who work for organizations can dportfolios keeps irectly affect a corporation’s bottom line, therefore “easily quantifying their impact on profits.”

Next step: Click to Find The Right Finance Program.

How to prepare: Don’t know how to get started in this lucrative career path? Based on findings by the Department of Labor, most financial analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree. Numerous fields provide appropriate preparation for this job, including accounting, economics, finance, statistics, mathematics, and engineering.

If you’re interested in an advanced position, the Department says, a master’s degree in business administration or a master’s degree in finance is often required by employers for these types of jobs. Also take note: the Department says many financial analyst positions are required to be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

* All salary information comes from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013.